Las Vegas Sun

July 28, 2014

Currently: 93° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

Family says government overreacted to boy’s gun photo

Image

ASSOCIATED PRESS

This undated photo provided by Shawn Moore shows his son Josh, 11, holding a rifle his father gave him as a birthday present, at their home in Carneys Point, N.J. The Moore family claims this photo, posted on Facebook, led the state’s child welfare agency to the family’s house, March 15, 2013, demanding to be let inside to inspect their guns.

Updated Tuesday, March 19, 2013 | 5:45 p.m.

The ruddy-cheeked, camouflage-clad boy in the photo smiles out from behind a pair of glasses, proudly holding a gun his father gave him as a present for his upcoming 11th birthday.

The weapon in the photo, posted by his dad on Facebook, resembles a military-style assault rifle but, his father says, is actually just a .22-caliber copy. And that, the family believes, is why child welfare case workers and police officers visited the home in Carneys Point last Friday and asked to see his guns.

New Jersey's Department of Children and Families declined to comment specifically on the case but says it often follows up on tips. The family and an attorney say father Shawn Moore's Second Amendment rights to bear arms were threatened in a state that already has some of the nation's strictest gun laws and is considering strengthening them after December's schoolhouse massacre in Connecticut.

In this case, the family believes someone called New Jersey's anonymous child abuse hot line.

Shawn Moore said he gave his son Josh the gun as a present to use on hunting trips. The elder Moore was at a friend's house when his wife called, saying state child welfare investigators, along with four local police officers, were at the house, asking to inspect the family's guns.

Moore said he called his lawyer Evan Nappen, who specializes in Second Amendment cases, and had him on speaker phone as he arrived at his house in Carneys Point, just across the Delaware River from Wilmington, Del.

"They said they wanted to see into my safe and see if my guns were registered," Moore said. "I said no; in New Jersey, your guns don't have to be registered with the state; it's voluntary. I knew once I opened that safe, there was no going back."

With the lawyer listening in on the phone, Moore said he asked the investigators and police officers whether they had a warrant to search his home. When they said no, he asked them to leave. One of the child welfare officials would not identify herself when Moore asked for her name, he said.

The agents and the police officers left, and nothing has happened since, he said.

"I don't like what happened," he said. "You're not even safe in your own house. If they can just show up at any time and make you open safes and go through your house, that's not freedom; it's like tyranny."

State child welfare spokeswoman Kristine Brown said that when it receives a report of suspected abuse of neglect, it assigns a caseworker to follow up. She said law enforcement officers are asked to accompany caseworkers only if the caseworkers feel their safety could be compromised.

"It's the caseworker's call," she said. "It is important to note the way an investigation begins is through the child abuse hotline. Someone has to call to let us know there is a concern."

Carneys Point Police Chief Robert DiGregorio did not answer a call late Tuesday to his office, which said only he would be able to comment.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 1 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. I post photos of my 7 year old son shooting a compound bow and arrow - it's just as lethal, just as deadly as a .22 rifle. No one is breaking down my door (yet). This event was an insane investigation and the caller who made the child services report needs to, in the least, be fined for making a false report.